Feds approve ‘preferred’ route for proposed Illiana Expressway
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org January 21, 2013 1:42PM
Updated: February 23, 2013 6:16AM
The Federal Highway Administration has approved a preferred route for the Illiana Expressway, which would link Interstate 55 in Illinois with Interstate 65 in Indiana.
If the highway ever gets built, it would start at a spot between Cedar Lake and Lowell in Indiana and run west into Will County. The road would run south of Beecher and Peotone and veer north of Wilmington-Peotone Road just west of Interstate 57.
The expressway would end along the north edge of Wilmington. The route was one of three proposed pathways studied for the past several years. The pathway approval released by the highway administration last week also includes an option not to build the road at all.
Wilmington City Clerk Judith Radosevich, whose view from her back yard could one day be dominated by the expressway, said she wasn’t surprised to see the federal government choose that route.
“I knew it was coming,” she said.
And even though the public and officials will be given a chance to lobby for the no-build option, the route is pretty much “etched in stone,” she said.
“It’s going to go where in God’s name they want to put it,” she said. “One way or another they’ll get what they want. I think we can protest until the cows come home.”
Radosevich said she planned to study the recommendation in detail before making more comments.
The preferred route and the no-build options both will be forwarded for another study, which could take two years, according to IllianaCorridor.org. That would complete the first phase of the expressway study. The second phase, which would involve final design and construction plans, has not been funded.
The route also was favored by Will County officials, who said a northern route would have been too costly to build because of all of the development that has taken place in Will County in recent years and a southern route would not have generated toll revenue needed to make the expressway viable.
The Illiana would reduce truck traffic that comes to and from shipping intermodal facilities in Joliet and Elwood, which is why some Will County officials said they favor it.
In August, the Will County Board voted in favor of the route, but only if a “sliver” of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is used for the expressway so homes in northern Wilmington don’t have to be torn down to make way for the road. The board also opposes the use of so-called “quick-take” powers that would allow authorities to more quickly take land for the project.
The Wilmington City Council, though, does not want the road built. Areas of Wilmington likely to be most impacted include Foxtail Commons and Deer Creek Estates northeast of town and the O’Brien subdivision northwest of town. The project would have a more indirect impact on Waters Edge.
Now that a route has been selected, the 2,000-foot-wide proposed corridor will be narrowed to the finalized 400-foot-wide highway.
Landowners in the 2,000-foot corridor will be notified within the next two weeks by mail that the corridor was selected. The letter will provide information on how the process will continue along with dates for upcoming public meetings on the road. Landowners in the rejected corridors will also receive notification those corridors are no longer under consideration.
Contributing: Carrie Napoleon